CEBU businessman Peter Lim, and seven other suspected drug lords have been charged before the Justice Department for violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
The complaint filed by the Major Crimes Investigation Unit of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group earlier this month, also charged Kerwin Espinosa, inmate Peter Co, Marcelo Adorco, Max Miro, Lovely Adam Impal, Ruel Malindangan and Jun Pepito for the sale and distribution of illegal drugs.
A department task force on illegal drugs is set to conduct a preliminary investigation of the charges.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has issued a lookout bulletin order against Lim and other respondents, alerting the Bureau of Immigration to monitor their possible flight.
“In view of the gravity of the offense filed against the above-named individuals, there is likelihood that they might leave the country to place themselves beyond the reach of the lawful processes of the concerned offices,” Aguirre said in his order.
Espinosa, a confessed drug dealer and son of slain mayor Rolando Espinosa, is currently under the government’s witness protection program after he testified against Senator Leila de Lima, who is detained on drug charges. Co is a high-profile inmate in the New Bilibid Prison recently transferred back to the maximum security compound.
In a Senate hearing last year, Espinosa tagged Lim as top illegal drugs supplier in Central Visayas.
An earlier National Bureau of Investigation report to the Justice Department said that Lim, who met with Duterte a year ago to deny that he was a drug dealer, is the same personality in the drug matrix released by the President last year.
However, the bureau said the involvement of Lim in the illegal drug trade was a matter yet to be investigated.
Also on Monday, the Doha-based news network Al-Jazeera said fishermen claim they have been dumping bodies of alleged victims of the bloody war on drugs near Manila Bay on orders of the police, but the Palace dismissed the report as hearsay.
A local fisherman who goes by the name of “Manuel” claimed that he has personally disposed of 20 bodies that authorities called “trash.”
“We usually throw them out in Manila Bay,” he told Al Jazeera. “Sometimes we put weights on it, so it doesn’t float up.
One of the dumped corpses, the report claimed, was known to the police as a drug pusher.
Responding to the report, Malacañang said that critics better present proof that the alleged killings were taking place.
“As far as we are concerned, those are mere allegations, if there are no evidence to back up that. Then that remains hearsay,” Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a Palace news briefing.
Shortly after winning the presidency, Duterte warned that the 1,000 persons summarily executed since 1990 as claimed by the New York-based Human Rights Watch will reach 100,000 if he becomes the country’s president.
“You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out,” he said in May 2015. “Because I’d kill you. I’ll dump all of you into Manila Bay, and fatten all the fish there.”
Thousands of people have died since President Rodrigo Duterte took office last year and ordered an unprecedented crackdown on drug-related crimes that has drawn global criticism and allegations of widespread human rights abuses.
The Duterte administration defended its drug war against critics, saying reported figures--from 7,000 to 9,000--were overblown.
As soon as he got into office, Duterte waged his controversial drug war resulting in more than 3,151 deaths from July 1, 2016 to June 13, 2016 alone, according to government statistics.
Official data from the Philippine National Police have also pegged the total number of homicide cases at 9,432 from July 2016 to March 2017.
Of this number, 1,847 deaths were said to be drug-related, while 1,894 were not. The remaining 5,691 cases, or about 60 percent of the total figure, were still under investigation.
Duterte’s anti-narcotics drive has also resulted in a 26.45 percent drop in the estimated total drug market, and 28.57 percent reduction in index crime, PNP data shows.
Government data showed that authorities have facilitated the surrender of 1,304,795 drug suspects from July 1, 2016 to June 6, 2017.
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